Frontier growth at TPA prompts Airside change
The airline announced 11 new destinations in 2017 and another six in 2018.
Sixteen years ago, Frontier Airlines came to Tampa International Airport with one route – a nonstop hop to Denver, Colorado. Now the airline serves 19 markets and more than 1 million passengers a year at TPA, making it the airport’s fastest growing airline.
That remarkable growth means they’ve outgrown their current home on Airside C, TPA’s busiest airside.
Frontier will soon move to Airside E, allowing the airline to continue along its rapid growth trajectory. They’re scheduled to start operating from the new location on Nov. 14.
“We did a lot of analysis and determined Airside E had the most capacity. We had to make sure we put them on gates that make the most sense with the least disruption to other carriers that may otherwise use those gates,” said Adam Bouchard, Senior Manager of Terminal Operations and Security, who led the operations side of the move.
The need to relocate Frontier became apparent after the airline announced 11 new destinations in 2017 and another six in 2018.
“Gating was an issue, but not the only one,” said Beth Zurenko, TPA’s Vice President of Real Estate, who worked closely with the Operations team to coordinate the move. “The security checkpoints also can’t accommodate the increased volume and still maintain the level of service that people expect from Tampa International. Last year, we added two new TSA lanes at Airside C during the busy spring break period. There’s just not the room to grow anymore there and function efficiently during peak periods.”
One new screening checkpoint is being added at Airside E to accommodate the increase in passenger volume at that airside.
TPA’s Real Estate team stayed in close contact with all parties while arranging the move, including other carriers on Airside E, and have conducted weekly meetings with operations, TSA, maintenance and others to ensure a smooth transition.
“We want it to be a seamless experience for the passengers – one day it’s this and the next day it’s this,” said Andrew LaGala, Real Estate Project Manager. Going from Airside C to Airside E means moving Frontier from the red side to the blue side of the airport, a process that those involved in the project say is more complicated than on-boarding a new airline. Frontier’s ticket counter must be moved, and signs must be changed throughout the campus, from the George Bean Parkway to the curbsides to the airport interior.
Mack Sneed, maintenance superintendent, is coordinating the sign changes. The work began weeks ago, and will finish in the overnight hours of Nov. 13 when a team of eight will make the final transition.
“We’ll go back and double and triple check to make sure everything’s right,” Mack said.
Frontier’s TPA team is excited about the move and thinks it will be beneficial from both a customer service and operational point of view.
“I think it’s a win-win for everybody,” said Britt Hinkle, Frontier’s station manager at TPA. “We’ll have more space for our operations and more space for our customers.”
Frontier will notify passengers in advance of the move by sending out notices and emails. Likewise, Tampa International Airport will post the announcement internally as well as through social media.